Just about three days and ten hours until the start of the Watertribe Everglades Challenge. (Dawn, you might want to check your count down clock, it is reading three days and three hours - you don't want to accidentally get a seven hour head start, do you?)
I believe that is SandyBottom, left, and Kiwibird, center, at the start of a challenge a year or two ago. I always look forward to following the event and will be posting updates here as the competitors sail/paddle/row/drag the boats down the west coast of Florida.
Here is the best map I have seen for the event, I stole it from Kiwibird's blog. They start on the beach at For De Soto State Park near St. Petersburg, Fla and head south to Key Largo with three checkpoints in between.
I've followed the race for years but in the last year or two I've become fascinated by the portion of the trip between Checkpoint 2, Chokoloskee Island, and Checkpoint 3 at Flamingo. I believe there is an option where you can go "outside" and skirt the edge of the Everglades or cut through the glades on the Wilderness Waterway. Below is a photo, again from Kiwibird's blog, from the Wilderness Waterway. I guess choosing that path is taking into consideration more than just paddling.
And even within the Wilderness Waterway is an option to take a path known as The Nightmare. I asked Dawn about this the other day. Here is her description.
"the nightmare is a narrow cut through shortcut between the Harney River and the Broad River, part of the official Wilderness Waterway Route. It's about 8 miles I think and enters into Broad Creek who some think is even worse then the Nighmare. I'd paddled Broad Creek at night in 2007 and it was really hard . Both are Narrow, shallow, with alligators, and likely lots of snakes. It's like going thru a tunnel of mangrove. The Park says only go thru at high tide or you might be left high and dry, eaten alive by the skeeters. The name alone makes it difficult."
Sounds like fun. Well, maybe adventure is a better word. And if you don't take The Nightmare.....
"The Wilderness Waterway (WW) has to be experienced to believe. Mostly bays, but when your in the creeks and narrow connectors, it's a very spooky place. Paddling up Broad Creek to avoid the 'Nightmare' was it's own nightmare, especially in the dark. Very narrow, tunnel-like, full of downed trees and logs, and a very scary place."
I've started watching the weather for the west coast of Florida. The forecast has shifted a little since this morning. When I checked it hours ago is showed wind of the east for the start of the race. Now it seems to be swinging to the southeast on Saturday and possibly out of the south on Sunday. But by Monday a cool front should arrive bringing wind out of the north.
I did read on the discussion group that south Florida has been warmer than usual for this time of year. That will only add to the adventure as the critters, big and small, will be more active. The small critters being mosquitoes, the big ones being alligators.